Jimmy Olsen is a classic character with a rich history and his own solo series that was home to a great many important events. Darkseid first appeared in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134, and the series was one of the main goings-on of Jack Kirby’s legendary Fourth World saga. Jimmy’s exploits have made him a fan favorite character, and the relaunch of his solo series by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber showcases exactly what makes him such a fun, endearing character while pushing him in an all-new direction.
The issue is laid out like a series of shorter, related stories that all lead into one another while still being self-contained. It helps that they’re all absolutely hilarious. It goes through the history of Metropolis and the roles of the Olsens and Luthors within the city, before diving right into Jimmy’s hijinks. Featuring cameos and guest appearances from a whole host of characters, the book is full of excitement and heart from the get go. The first story is set in the past with Jimmy’s Great-Great-Grand-something, showing how he died. The next cuts to the modern day, where Jimmy tries to fall to Earth from space, which is a very standard Jimmy Olsen shenanigan. As is usual with these hijinks, something goes wrong and Jimmy needs Superman to save him. The third story focuses on Jimmy and Perry White, his boss at the Daily Planet, as Perry tears him a new one for his fiasco, and the final scene flashes a bit forward in time to Jimmy’s new digs to end the issue.
Lieber’s art is a key part of what makes this book as good as it is. His cartoony style allows for a lot of expressiveness with the characters’ faces and body language, and the panel layouts, while simple, do an excellent job pacing the comedy to land perfectly. Every character is depicted through Jimmy’s lens — Superman is perennially annoyed, Perry is perpetually screaming, and Jimmy himself is almost always terrified. Fairbairn’s colors set the tone perfectly, too, as each scene looks bright, fun, and cartoonish. Events that could easily be horrifying to watch are given levity and played for laughs, and the art team really makes it work.
The comedy in this book comes from every single part of each page. The beginnings of each section of the book have headers that resemble the classic title card for Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen but they all have their own twist on it to describe the setting and tease the events within. This is just one of the many additions that Clayton Cowles brings to the table in this issue, as his lettering does just as much to add levity and comedy as the art and writing do.
The issue as a whole does a delightful job setting the stage for Jimmy’s latest and potentially greatest adventure. Each member of the creative team adds their own unique flair to the book, creating a very unique offering that’s a hilarious read from start to finish. The issue sets up a great hook to drive the series, giving the maxiseries a sense of purpose. There’s a lot to dig into in this issue, and a lot to keep readers coming back next month.